Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

August 31, 2013

Task 3: Flying with the Big Boys at the OD Nats!

Third time’s the charm.    Launch opened at 1230 for the 3rd task of the competition, and it seemed like going early might be a good idea.  Perhaps I thought that only because I know I could get a ride up to relaunch if I sink out!   But I was one of the first to launch, and I didn’t sink out, but I scratched for a long time along with about 6 other wings in the air.  I didn’t recognize any of them but eventually realized they weren’t in the comp.  Instead, it was Nick Greece and his Vol Biv teammates, hoping to make a camping/flying trip up the Wasatch range just like they had done previously in Nepal and California.   Vol means flying in French, so Vol Biv means something like fly camping.    I think I’m going to try something like that next summer…I’ll call it sky camping. 

At any rate, when a good thermal came along, it was just me and the sky gods who were in it together, taking it all the way up to the top of Cascade Mountain.   Rain was coming across Utah Lake, and down on launch the rain shadow prevented anyone else from launching.  I learned later that they were all stuck on the ground until almost 4 pm (when most then went on to get stellar flights to the south).   

But up on Cascade, all I knew was that I was thermaling with pilots who were way above my pay grade, and somehow almost keeping up with them.  I wasn’t sure which direction they were headed, so I left to fly north to Mt. Timpanogos.   When I looked behind me, the Vol Biv group was following me, albeit somewhat higher.  That's ok, I made it to the Timpanogos ridge with plenty of height, and surfed along the side of the mountain.  I didn't bother getting high because I was going for distance, not height.  I did scare some animals crossing some scree slopes (were they elk?) and the Vol Biv guys kept pace with me above the ridgetop.  

On the north end of the ridge is a large valley.  American Fork canyon is nothing to sneeze at, and I wasn't sure if it was safe to cross it from there.  So I went out front to Mahogany to cross a narrower spot, which took a lot longer than a straight crossing.  The Vol Biv guys evidently knew what they were doing, crossing it the shorter way, and the next time I saw them they were disappearing over Lone Peak.  I eventually made it over the canyon, but by then a rainstorm over the valley was brewing up and coming my way fast.  The sunshine over Lone Peak disappeared within 5 minutes and I knew I was just a few minutes to late to get over that mountain and into blue sky again.  

In fact, the rain and clouds were moving faster my way now, and I was kinda boxed into the mountains above Alpine.  All I could do was make a few climbing turns to get over Box Elder Peak, and then dash down the other side to avoid the potential life-threatening storm coming my way.  There was no lift on the other side, and some sinky air, so within a few minutes I was landing at Silver Lake, and quite happy to be safe on the ground.   I even managed to find a ride down the bumpy gravel road to avoid having someone drive up to get me...so it was a great day of flying.

If the day had ended then, I would have had one of the best flights of the day!   But everyone else managed to relaunch after I had landed and had some great flights to the south.  I'm still looking for that big day when I can fly north all the way to Salt Lake City...perhaps I'll land downtown somewhere :)

Thanks Terri Olsen and Jim Petersen for the photos!

To check out other people's perspective on the competition, read Two-Can Fly's Blog HERE

And Chris Galli, the weather guru, blogs about weather HERE for the week.

Results are HERE

Nick Greece flying with the Utah Vol Biv Expedition
Rain headed our way over Utah Lake


  1. Dawn, It's been really fun flying with you and getting to know you.

  2. You're so welcome Dawn for the pics. It's been a pleasure getting to know you and Rob. I enjoy taking photos of you flying. Congrats on your resent flight!

    1. It was nice to see you keep up with the 'big' boys!